Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Playing it safe = Playing to lose

Well, it's official. After his crushing victory last night. Senator Botox will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2004. I hope that Kerry thoroughly enjoyed the balloons, applause and devotion last night, because that's the last thing he'll win this year. After picking up the crucial Hillary Clinton endorsement (notice how she waited until there was a clear winner? Take notes, Gore.), Kerry went out and..... apparently read a script from Gore's 2000 campaign.

One would think that if there was one thing Dems learned from the last election, it would be that populist anger and complaining doesn't win elections. It allows your opponent to set the terms of the debate and places you in permanent 'response' mode. This was bad enough for Gore, who was coma inducing. But for Kerry it's even worse. Not only is he as stiff as Gore, but he refuses to take a stand on any critical issue. Even Al could point to his vote in favor of Gulf War I, a war that Kerry decried with vigor in the Senate. Or maybe he didn't, it depends on which view Kerry decides to endorse at any given moment. But this utter lack of defining positions will kill him in the general debate. Bush will set the talking points and say, "Here is where I am on the issue." Kerry's response will be a variation of "That's bad. I stand somewhere else, but I am not saying where." And voters will turn on him in droves.

But in a primary campaign, that anger works. Partisans love to hear the enemy (i.e. Bush) get verbally horsewhipped. Plus, he's a Vietnam Vet! And with his careful adherence to keep from coming down firmly on one side of any issue, primary voters picked him over Edwards.

So instead of a positive speech talking about a bright future a la Edwards, Kerry delivered a dour speech, saying ""There are powerful forces that want America to continue on exactly the path that's it on today." Ooohhh, spooky powerful forces. Kerry's consultant, Bob Shrum, used this same tactic in 2000 for Gore. How'd that turn out? But even there, Kerry doesn't say who the "powerful forces" are. So he can deny including anyone in that group at a moment's notice. Reagan was 'The Great Communicator'. Kerry should be called The 'Great Fence-Straddler'.

But in returning to the main point, this nomination kills the Dems chances at an '04 win. Look at it this way. Bush has been getting hammered in the press for months. The silly jobs estimate. Pocket nominations of conservative judges. Pushing an anti gay-marriage amendment. The Iraq situation dragging on and on. And Kerry is only TIED in the polls with Bush. He didn't have to deal with any negative attacks in the primary, and has had a couple of months to really contrast himself with Bush. And he's only TIED? What happens when the economy gets better? Or the GOP starts opening up on Kerry (and there is a LOT of ammo to use)? All of Bush's negatives are already out there, and have pretty much been factored into the poll numbers. Kerry has yet to deal with that kind of scrutiny. When he does, the warts are going to show up awfully fast.

Only the maladjusted, misfit Democratic Party could lose TWICE to George W. Bush., who is such a lightweight it's surprising he doesn't float away in a stiff breeze. Well, I hope they enjoy the convention in Boston (how will that play in the South in November? A Mass. senator being coronated in Boston...) because that'll be it for the good times in '04 in Donkeyland.

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